Monday 9th March 2020 and the start of a new week. I headed off to the stables with coffee in hand as usual, its strange how something can quickly become a habit.
Quit whilst you are ahead
As Monday’s are always quiet at the yard, and as we still didn’t have a saddle, I made the decision to have a groundwork session and after the all-important coffee drinking, I led Riley into the manege. We did various exercises such as in-hand walk, halt etc. and finished off with desensitising using a carrier bag attached to a lung whip, touching him and flapping around him which he handled very well. Still keen for him not to think he was on a riding holiday, I rode him bare-back in walk, (still not brave enough for his fast trot). Sometimes you should quit whilst you are ahead (a reminder to myself for next time), but because Riley had been so good, I decided to lunge him which wasn’t entirely successful. He has one rein that he is good on, so things went well: and one rein that he always misbehaves on and he didn’t let me down on that front.
I turned him out and when I went to bring him in later that day, he was happily munching the haylage that had been put out for the horses and ponies who were staying out overnight. Luckily, he didn’t object to being led away from it.
He didn’t particularly want to come in .
Tuesday morning, I still couldn’t have a lesson on him so instead he had a grooming session as I didn’t have time for anything else and turned him out into the field without his rug as the weather was fine. When I went to bring him in later that day, he didn’t particularly want to come in so proceeded to walk off in the opposite direction. I suspect he was trying to hide how much mud he had managed to get on his fur, he was caked in it. So, when we reached the yard the grooming brushes came out. I couldn’t tie him up in his usual spot outside, so had to find another place which he wasn’t particularly happy with as he was unsettled, particularly when the quad bike started up to head to the field.
Wednesday morning was a mad dash as I was attending a course and had to leave the yard early and dressed up in my finery which I desperately hoped would not get muddy so there was a quick rug change and turn out in the field.
Thursday morning after a groom we attempted more mounting block work, I say attempted as Riley was being argumentative and wasn’t keen on the idea.
Saddle fitting day
Friday was an exciting day for me and Riley, (well he may disagree), as we had an appointment with the saddle fitter. As the appointment wasn’t until 11.30am I took Riley into the mange for some groundwork and afterwards we had about 15 minutes to spare so I thought I would let Riley have a wander around so took him off the leadrope and stood at the side of the arena to watch him. He walked over to join me, so I decided to walk around the arena to see if he would follow me, and he did for a few minutes. I was thrilled, and didn’t even mind when he got sidetracked by a teeny bit of grass at the side of the manege. Sarah from Crewe Saddlery arrived and after measuring his back, asking questions and trying on a host of saddles we had two to ride in and test. Luckily the saddle that Sarah advised was the best one, was the one I preferred. I have written a full-length article on this which you can read here
Disappointed to have missed him
Saturday morning, I arrived at the yard slightly later than usual and one of the yard staff had turned him out, so I was disappointed not to be able to have done it myself or have seen him. After speaking to the staff, they said it was unusual for me not to have been there when they were turning out, and so thought they would take him to the field. I returned in the afternoon to bring him in and gave him some extra cuddles.
The whole of Sunday morning was spent mucking out Riley’s stable as I needed to take up much of the wood pellets and replace them. It was quite a task, so I broke it up with a trip or two to the tack shop next door. Firstly I went in to see if the weigh tape that had been ordered had arrived, it hadn’t but I came out with new reins and on the second trip I took in the medium weight turnout and stable rugs in for cleaning.
Our first hack
Afterwards I went home for a much-needed coffee and food and returned to the livery yard with the intention of hacking down the lane. By the time I had groomed and fought with Riley over having his saddle on I felt that had been enough of a challenge and didn’t know if I wanted to brave the lane however with both indoor and outdoor schools being used the lane was my only riding option so off I went. I did have a side walker as I wasn’t confident enough to do it on my own and we made it there and back without any issues. Riley isn’t the most confident so I could tell that he was nervous, and felt as though he had the odd wobble, but it was the first time for both of us.